Sunday, March 20, 2016

Science Fiction Authors in the Bellerophon Weird Tales-Part Three

Brinke Stevens
Charlene Elizabeth Brinkman
Born September 20, 1954, San Diego, California

For Weird Tales
"The Pandora Principle" with A.E. van Vogt (serial, Fall 1984)

If Brinke Stevens were not a real person, she could be a sidekick to Doc Savage or Buckaroo Banzai. Actress, model, screenwriter, and author, Brinke has degrees in psychology and marine biology, has studied foreign languages, including Esperanto, and is or was a member of Mensa. Known as a scream queen, she has appeared in dozens of horror movies. Her first was Necromancy (1972), starring Orson Welles, but it isn't clear to me whether she was in the original, the 1983 reissue--in which she was billed as Berinka Stevens--or both. In 1980, Brinke married artist Dave Stevens (1955-2008). Their marriage lasted less than a year, but she continued to model for him and other artists. Her only story for Weird Tales was the first part of a serial, "The Pandora Principle," with A.E. van Vogt. Her only other credit for fiction in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database is the novelette "Jacking In," published in Stranger by Night (1995).

I can't say for sure, but that looks a lot like Brinke Stevens on the cover of the first Bellerophon Weird Tales, Fall 1984. The artist was the rare and elusive Ro H. Kim.

Here she is again in Dave Stevens' heading for "The Pandora Principle" in the same issue. With these two illustrations, she joined Edgar Allan Poe, Virgil Finlay, and Hannes Bok as writers who also appeared in illustrations on the cover or in the interior of Weird Tales.

Larry Tritten
Born August 7, 1938, Iowa
Died April 6, 2011

For Weird Tales

"Flecks of Gold" (short story, Fall 1984)

Born in Iowa, Larry Eugene Tritten grew up in Idaho, served in the U.S. Army for two years, and attended North Idaho Junior College. He studied creative writing at San Francisco State University on a scholarship and lived most of his life in San Francisco, minus his frequent travels overseas. Tritten wrote science fiction stories and travel articles, movie reviews, humorous pieces, and more, over 1,500 articles in his lifetime. His first published science fiction story was "West Is West" in If, August 1968. He contributed to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago TribuneHouston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as magazines, including Harpers, HustlerThe New Yorker, Playboy, Rolling StoneTravel and Leisure, and Vanity Fair. Like so many of the writers on this list, Tritten had a personal connection to Harlan Ellison, who wrote of him, "I was enormously fond of Larry, of his humor, his goodwill and sense of being proudly, as I am, a simple 'blue collar' artisan."

Larry Tritten's story "Late Night in the Rusty Tiara" was in the third and final issue of the British magazine Beyond Science Fiction & Fantasy in September/October 1995. The cover artists were Boris Vallejo (b. 1941) and Les Edwards (b. 1949).

A.E. van Vogt
Alfred Elton van Vogt
Born April 26, 1912, Gretna, Manitoba, Canada
Died  January 26, 2000, Los Angeles, California

For Weird Tales

"The Pandora Principle" with Brinke Stevens (serial, Fall 1984)
"The Brain" (short story, Winter 1985)

A.E. van Vogt is considered a giant among science fiction authors of the Golden Age and was among the last to appear in Weird Tales. He enjoyed a long and productive career writing short stories, novels, poems, and essays. His first published science fiction story was "Black Destroyer" in John W. Campbell's Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1939. His series include Null-A, Rull, Slan, the Space Beagle, and the Weapons Shop of Isher. Like Campbell and others in his circle, van Vogt fell for Dianetics and was an associate of L. Ron Hubbard for more than a decade.

Born in Canada, van Vogt moved around as a child, remembering in adulthood:
Childhood was a terrible period for me. I was like a ship without anchor being swept along through darkness in a storm. Again and again I sought shelter, only to be forced out of it by something new. (Quoted in "Man Beyond Man: The Early Stories of A. E. van Vogt" by Alexei Panshin, here.)
On van Vogt's novelette The Mixed Men, Darrell Schweitzer (an editor of Weird Tales) wrote:
This is the realism, and logic, of a small boy playing with toy soldiers in a sandbox. I'm tougher than you. I’ve got a billion spaceships! They’re brand-new. They only took 800 years to develop. . . . There is no intersection with adult reality at any point, for all van Vogt was able to write was that small boy's sandbox game with an adult level of intensity. (From "Letters of Comment," The New York Review of Science Fiction, May 1999.)
Others have had different opinions, of course, but if the facts of biography bear upon an author's work, then Mr. Schweitzer seems to have picked up on something of significance, something that might lead to an understanding not only of van Vogt's writing but also of his interest in Dianetics. In any case, van Vogt wrote two stories for the Bellerophon Weird Tales, part one of a serial, "The Pandora Principle," co-authored with Brinke Stevens and never completed in print (Fall 1984), and "The Brain" (Winter 1985). If I read the Internet Speculative Fiction Database correctly (always a problem with its cumbersome system of cataloguing), "The Brain" was his second to last magazine story.

J. N. Williamson
Gerald "Jerry" Neal Williamson
Born April 17, 1932, Indianapolis, Indiana
Died  December 8, 2005, Noblesville, Indiana

For Weird Tales

"The Bus People" (short story, Winter 1985)

J.N. Williamson was primarily a writer of horror stories and novels. He also wrote non-fiction. Williamson authored more than forty novels and collections and more than 100 short stories. "The Bus People," his only story for Weird Tales (of which I am aware), came near the beginning of his career. Williamson received a lifetime achievement award from the Horror Writers of America in 2003. He was born in my native city of Indianapolis; graduated from Shortridge High School, as did Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007); and attended Butler University, as did James Alexander Thom (b. 1933), who, like Williamson, majored in journalism. I wonder if they knew each other, or if my uncle, who sat next to Mr. Thom in English class at Butler, also knew the man who would later become a writer of horror stories.

I always like to show foreign-language editions of writers in English. Here is the cover of the Spanish-language edition of Horrors 7, by "Stephen King y otros," and selected by J.N. Williamson. The illustration, by Michael Whelan, was also published on the front of The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series V, in 1977. I'm not sure how that worked exactly, as Gerald W. Page was the editor of the English-language version.

John Wyndham
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris
Aka John Beynon, Lucas Parkes
Born July 10, 1903, Dorridge, Warwickshire, England
Died  March 11, 1969, Petersfield, Hampshire, England

For Weird Tales

"Vengeance by Proxy" (short story, Winter 1985; originally in Strange Stories, Feb. 1940)

Although Bellerophon was not the miner of old stories that Sam Moskowitz was in the Weird Tales of the 1970s, it nonetheless uncovered works from long-gone authors, including "Vengeance by Proxy" by John Wyndham, originally in Strange Stories in February 1940. Born before the Great War, Wyndham, nĂ© Harris, was shaped by that conflict and its sequel, in which he took part as a public servant and a soldier who landed at Normandy after the first wave. By then he had already been contributing to American science fiction and fantasy magazines for more than a decade, his first story, "Worlds to Barter," having been published in Wonder Stories in May 1931. Readers of today might best remember him as the author of The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), filmed as The Village of the Damned (1960). The first book has had some influence, consciously or not, on our current mythology of zombies. (Like The Walking Dead, it opens in a hospital when an unaffected man awakes to a post-apocalyptic world.) The second speaks presciently about a current and very real invasion of Europe and the inadequacy of Western liberalism in defending itself against threats from the outside.

Originally published in 1935, John Beynon Harris' novel The Secret People was reprinted by Lancer in the 1960s. Here is the cover to the second Lancer printing (1967), with an illustration by Frank Frazetta.

Text and captions copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Yes it is Brinke Stevens on the cover of vol. 49, #1 and she also appears on page 37 in an ad for Weird Tales nightshirts along with Debbie Norman and Rebecca Kordecki,
    and in vol 49, #2 on page 49 in a similar ad.

    1. Thanks, Brian, for this and all of the other information you provided concerning the Bellerophon issues of Weird Tales.